The Daily and some fancy apps aren’t going to save journalism

In the last few days we have seen the announcement of some sort of new Murdoch iPad/tablet-only paper ‘The Daily’ and Richard Branson has also thrown his hat into the arena with his announcement.

The Daily

The App icon for the new newspaper

It is good that people are experimenting – I don’t believe in Murdoch’s approach or philosophy towards content and the Internet – but people do have to try things out – news and journalism needs a new business model.

Yet apps, programmes and software are not the answer to the problems that journalism faces, they will not encourage people to pay for a low quality product just because they are on a touch screen. Especially not when we have to suffer the kind of inaccurate and agenda driven journalism that we have seen regarding the student protests of the last two weeks.

What has happened with reporting in the last few weeks, months and years has highlighted the problems that journalism currently faces. Our news is less accurate, rushed and lazy – if the Guardian had not pursued the Ian Tomlison case, would anyone have been held to account? If the New York Times had not pushed the phone hacking story (Wall Street Journal motivations aside) would the police be investigating again?

No national newspaper has picked up on the pictures and videos from yesterday that show students defending the police van, rather than attacking it. (Although I haven’t seen it myself, apparently the Metro did cover the ‘students protect police van’ angle.)

If we as the public cannot trust our newspapers and our journalists to fact check, to make sure every angle of a story is covered, why do they expect to pay for our news – whatever format it may come in?

Trust is formed through the building of a relationship over time, hard to gain and easy to loose, so why are papers so cavalier with the relationship they have with their readers? – a relationship that should lead many to pay for content they consider to be insightful, truthful, reliable and accurate.


Thanks to Flickr user: chrisjohnbeckett

I have Twitter for my instant news, which I can always take with a large pinch of salt. One tweeter estimated 3 million students at the first protest – clearly wrong, especially when compared with all other tweets being sent.

I want my newspaper to deliver so much more. I don’t care if they are first, they will get my pound or my visitor stat if they are best.

I would rather have a thinner paper full of interesting news and challenging comment (yes, these types of content should be separate; this has been forgotten as well) with none of the re-written, waste of space, PR churnalism crud that is there to fill space.

The Daily may be an interesting experiment – it may even be the first step towards a new and prosperous business model, yet news (of the national, media corporation variety) is doomed if content continues to be sloppy, inaccurate and 80% the same as what I get in the free papers on the way home.

The iPad (and I say this as an Apple/gadget nerd) is irrelevant – formats will continue to change forever, but no matter how we consume our news it needs to be a quality product, I shant dare trot out such a cliche as ‘content is king’, oh wait.. but it is true. Even if newspapers are beamed directly to chips in our brains, what good is it if the content is PR controlled and spun to oblivion and beyond by people trying to control the ‘story’.

Every story does not need to be a investigative masterpiece, but it should uphold some basic principles.

Rant over…

In fairness to the BBC they do have this article – but the overriding point still stands.


About Nick Petrie
Social Media & Campaigns Editor @TheTimes of London. Co-founder @Wannabehacks. Interested in communities, conversations, storytelling.

One Response to The Daily and some fancy apps aren’t going to save journalism

  1. Fabian says:

    Apparently one newspaper actually ran the picture of the school girls with a cation implying that they were trying to prevent the van from leaving.

    Good news is that the Guardian actually has a story on the girls today:

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